Apple has announced iOS 17, its next major iPhone update. The revelation came Monday during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference. The new iPhone software is based on the last few versions of iOS, which is important because it probably won’t break the status quo on your iPhone. iOS 17 brings updates to FaceTime, Messages, and the Phone app to make your iPhone more intuitive and personal.
Last year’s iOS 16 software update introduced the ability to edit or “unsend” messages you send via iMessage, Apple Pay Later, an overhaul of the lock screen, revamped notifications and live activities. These additions didn’t come out all at once, and were actually spread out over the course of smaller iOS software updates throughout the year.
We can expect the same for iOS 17, which is likely to be released just before the rumored iPhone 15 goes on sale.
Last year, we got customizable lock screens in iOS 16. This year, iOS 17 has a similar change for your iPhone’s contact cards to look more eye-catching. Contact posters are beautiful treatments for contact photos and emoticons, combined with smooth-looking fonts that appear when you receive calls and for other services on your phone where you communicate and share.
You can customize your Contact Poster similar to how you customize your lock screen. Choose a photo, font and color and that’s it.
AirDrop just got easier to use
iOS 17 brings an overhaul to AirDrop. Simply bring your iPhone close to someone else to share a contact poster, photos, videos, or start a shared activity using Share Play. Of course, being Apple, there’s a word for sharing your contact poster with someone new: NameDrop. The good thing is that you can choose what contact information is shared. NameDrop also works between iPhones or with Apple Watch. Reminds me of the contact “bump” in the early days of the iPhone.
Standby mode turns your iPhone into an Amazon Echo Show
One of the biggest additions in iOS 17 is for when your iPhone isn’t in your hand. When your iPhone is on its side while MagSafe is charging, you get a new full-screen experience with viewable information. The feature is called Standby, and it mimics what many smart home devices like the Amazon Echo Show can do.
The new screen shows the time, photos, widgets and live activities; almost all of which can be customized. It’s sort of a cross between the iPhone 14 Pro’s always-on display and the Apple Watch’s nightstand mode.
When you swipe to the side of the screen in standby mode, you can view your favorite photos or moments. iOS 17 will also automatically shuffle images to find what makes the best use of the screen.
Standby mode can also display visual modules. For example, you can see the weather, your Apple Home smart controls, or your favorite third-party gadget. With support for live activities, you can also see the result of sports events or the status of a food delivery.
One of the more curious features is that the Standby can remember your preferred view “setting” for each location you charge via MagSafe.
The new Journal app
iOS 17 offers a new Apple app called Journal that creates personalized suggestions to inspire writing. These suggestions are curated from information on your iPhone, such as photos, location, music, and workouts.
The journal lets you pick a moment, like “morning visit, Ocean Beach,” and start writing. You can also schedule notifications to remind you to write and receive new prompts. You can mark important points so that you can reflect on them later.
Another new talent on iOS 17 involves your voicemail. When someone calls you and leaves a message, you’ll see a live transcription in real time as they speak. The new service is called Live Voicemail, and it looks like the answering machine days when my dad would screen a call. For live voicemail, you’ll see the voicemail right on your screen, so you can decide whether to go out and take the call. The feature is powered by your iPhone’s neural engine to preserve your privacy. Live Voicemail looks identical to the Call Screen on Google Pixel phones, which isn’t a bad thing.
iOS 17 will let you record a video message in FaceTime. This is a much sought after feature that will ensure you can document and share important moments even if someone misses your call.
Apple is expanding and simplifying location sharing through Messages. The new feature, called Check In, is for letting a loved one know that you’ve arrived safely at your destination. Whether you’re coming home after dark or going for an early morning run, you can start a check-in with a family member or friend, and as soon as you arrive home, they’ll automatically notify your friend. But if something unexpected happens, it can recognize that you’re nowhere near your destination and check in with you. If you don’t respond, Check In may automatically share your current location, the route you’ve traveled, your iPhone’s battery level, and the status of cellular service; it’s all end-to-end encrypted.
Messages get a handful of fixes and additions
The tried-and-trusted Messages app is getting a few updates, including a visual overhaul of your iMessage apps, which will no longer sit above your keyboard and instead be accessed via a plus sign in the bottom left corner.
Searching your messages just got a lot easier in iOS 17 with the addition of filters. When you start a search in the Messages app, you’ll be able to add terms to narrow down the results.
Another welcome addition is transcription for audio messages. If you’re someone who has friends or family members send you audio messages, you’ll be able to read a transcription of the recording right in the Messages app.
There’s also a new “catch up arrow” in Messages. It’s located in the upper right corner of your conversation and lets you jump to the first message you haven’t read. This could be a killer feature for managing group chats. Apple also made built-in replies faster. In iOS 17, you’ll be able to simply swipe to reply to any message bubble.
Apple fixes auto-correction of “dropping”.
Autocorrect will become smarter and will be able to correct more grammatical errors. Changing the words back to what you typed is easier. And apparently autocorrect will learn and allow you to use profanity. Duck, yes!
iMessage Stickers gets a new drawer to keep all the stickers you’ve used in one place. And now emoticons are stickers. You can peel and stick an emoticon sticker to a message bubble, rotate and resize it. Last year in iOS 16, Apple introduced the ability to lift an object from the background of a photo as part of Visual Lookup. With iOS 17, you can turn a photo theme into a sticker in Messages.
The sticker drawer also has a Live Stickers section that lets you create a sticker animation (aka gif) from a Live Photo. Stickers can be accessed system-wide in things like Tapback, Markup, and third-party apps; basically anywhere you can access emoticons.
But wait, there are more iOS 17 features
As is typical at WWDC, there are a lot more additions and improvements to iOS 17 than Apple showed off during the keynote. Some notable highlights include:
Activate Siri by simply saying Siri instead of Hey Siri
Download offline maps in the Maps app
New Safari profiles and your passwords
Automatically extract one-time verification codes from the Mail app
Interactive widgets (which were detailed during the iPadOS part)
iOS 17 will be released in full this fall and will work on iPhone XS, XR, and newer, including the 2020 iPhone SE.